Louisiana farmers and ranchers are getting help to handle stress

News

Baltazar Lucas, brother-in-law of farm worker Sebastian Francisco Perez who died last weekend while working in an extreme heat wave, breaks up earth, Thursday, July 1, 2021, near St. Paul, Ore. (AP Photo/Nathan Howard)

BATON ROUGE, La (KLFY) — Farmers in Louisiana are getting some much-needed help from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry (LDAF), according to a news release.

LDAF has joined a multi-state effort to battle farmer and rancher stress, according to the release. Farm and ranch closures, land forfeitures, along with labor issues, have been listed as contributing factors to high levels of stress in the farming community.

According to, a 2015 report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, suicides in rural farming communities are twice as high as those in urban areas.

In an effort to address the issue, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture will fund four regional farm and ranch stress assistance networks. LDAF is among more than 50 partners taking part in the Southern region and has been awarded a $500,000 grant to help with this project.

The three-year, $7.2 million Southern region project will span 13 states and two U.S. territories and is being coordinated by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. Partner organizations, in addition to the LDAF, represent land-grant institutions to government agencies, commodity and lending groups, and non-profit organizations.

Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., praised the initiative saying, “This funding and partnership will bring much-needed support to our Louisiana farmers and ranchers who have been tremendously affected by major hurricanes and the continued impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Mental health should always be in the spotlight.”

The network will coordinate six specific strategies designed to help rural citizens and communities. These include establishing hotlines for immediate accessibility, developing a comprehensive website with information and resources to address individual situations, and curating and creating resources for the website.

The effort will establish training for representatives working within rural communities to support individuals through direct services or support groups. Research into how to alleviate farmer and rancher stress as well as the issues endemic to rural communities is also part of the effort.

For more information, contact LDAF’s Program Director Lillie Adams Wiley at ladams@ldaf.state.la.us or (318) 949-3225.

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